- Allusion (0:57)
- Elucidation (6:01)
- Dancing Past the Churchyard (5:22)
- Homecoming (3:58)
- Elegy (5:40)
- We Must Be Dreaming (4:42)
- Illusions (6:18)
- A Long Way From Home (5:46)
- A Flat in Oslo (5:28)
“Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his
mind wonderfully.” —Samuel Johnson
I think about life and death and meaning a lot. Especially the death part. Some say I am obsessed with death but it’s more of a preoccupation really. It’s a persistent awareness of mortality and that tomorrow is promised to no one. I believe this is at the root of most people’s inspiration to do almost anything significant or ambitious and that in large part, the fear of death has driven human progress and shaped our cultures. Most people find it unpleasant to contemplate their permanent demise and try to avoid thinking about it. Of course, it is much easier to ignore death when things are going well. However, serious illness, a pandemic, an act of violence, or, the tragic loss of a loved one, for instance, can quickly change one’s sense of a stable self.
In May my cardiologists informed me that it was now crucial for me to have open heart surgery to replace a failing bicuspid aortic valve. Forgoing the surgery meant about a 50% chance of death within two years and having surgery came with a mortality rate of 2%. This was a little too close to a ‘hanged in a fortnight’ moment. That cold unpleasant feeling of death nearby can indeed concentrate the mind wonderfully and I hurriedly booked a studio to do the ballads-duet recording with Jean-Michel that I had been interminably pondering and procrastinating.
I have been playing with Jean-Michel fairly frequently for the last several years and love his sound, creative instinct, sense of timing, control, and emotional depth. I particularly love playing duo with him because he has a sixth sense as an accompanist and can make every note you play sound good. He also brings a fresh and unique perspective to my compositions.
I know that one of the things that ease existential pain and bring hope and joy into one’s life is beautiful music. I think Jean-Michel and I made some lovely life-affirming music that afternoon and I hope you will think so too. —K.D.
Allusion is a solo trumpet introduction where I improvise and allude to the melody of Elucidation.
Elucidation is based on a sarabande by J.S. Bach. I wanted to create a sort of haunting slow march effect so I simplified the melody, slowed it down, and changed the metre from 3/4 to 4/4. I also altered some of the harmonies, but we can still hear the old master’s hand in it.
Dancing Past the Churchyard is a kind of light-hearted, pseudo tango. I already have a composition called Whistling Past the Graveyard, so the title is a variation of that.
Homecoming is my jazz-influenced reflection on the many hymns I heard in my youth that are etched into my musical memory. I wish I would have thought to ask Jean-Michel to play a solo version. He plays it so beautifully.
Elegy is a simple melody that I harmonized to make a more melancholy and reflective statement.
We Must Be Dreaming is a composition I wrote for my father who died ten years ago. I was speaking with my brothers and we found it difficult to believe that much time has passed. Hence the name and the dreamlike nature of the piece.
Illusions is illusive because of the juxtaposition of a major melody and minor harmony mixed with unorthodox phrase lengths. Although in traditional AABA form the sections are 6,7,8, and 9 bars each.
A Long Way From Home is so named because the original piece was very long and took forever to get ‘home.’ I shortened it but liked the title. A lot of people feel they are a long way from home these days.
A Flat in Oslo is a composition that is sort of in AB that I wrote in the 1990s while on sabbatical in Oslo, Norway. I always liked the piece and the play on words in the title. It was the last thing we recorded that afternoon.
Kevin Dean – Trumpet
Jean-Michel Pilc – Piano
Produced by Paul Johnston, Kevin Dean & Jean-Michel Pilc
Recorded at Studios Piccolo, Montreal
Recorded and Mixed by Paul Johnston
Mastered by Guy Hébert, Concrete Mastering
Executive Producer Craig Monk
Album Design by Liv Smreciu, DESN 231, Typography II, Design, MacEwan University
Design Management by Constanza Pacher, Associate Professor
Special thanks to MacEwan University’s Provost, Dr. Craig Monk,for his ongoing support of Bent River Records.
More from Kevin Dean